May 18: Flash Fiction Challenge

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

May 18, 2016

May 18Twirling, twirling, eyes focused upward on the canopy of newborn leaves. Birch, maple and white pine. I can imagine skirts flaring at my ankles as I turn on heeled boots. Swirling, swirling, surrounded by the shadows of stories clinging to white-washed stones that mark the graves of copper miners. A squirrel chatters and I float back to my body only to realize I’m not a  child of the 1840s settlement of Clif Mine, but a modern woman in jeans, standing perfectly still with camera and notebook in hand.

Cemeteries make me dizzy.

My eyes and imagination take in the details so quickly I’m transported to multiple planes of awareness. The researcher within is rapidly scratching notes — names, dates, interesting  recordings that include the memorial bought by a lady for her dear departed male friend or the twin stones etched with the details of a mining association. The storyteller seeks to know why a 10-year old boy is listed as “killed at the mine.” He was only 10. The feminist wants more clues to the lives of women mentioned only as daughters or wives. The historian rejoices over the discovery of buried miners born in Cornwall; proof the local pasties originated with them.

There’s also the curious white-wash of most of the old stones. It’s something I’ve seen in photos and it preserves the lettering, though the tremendous weight of annual snows have toppled and cracked many stones. Even the roots of trees have buckled fences, borders and an obelisk. During the 1910s, marble stones give way to to cheap cement and crudely punctured tin faces. That’s the era when miners went on strike. Was it poverty that changed the stones so drastically?

Spring ephemerals burst from grass that covers mounds and pathways. Purple, lavender, pink and yellow. Small and quickly blooming before the leaves of trees fully form. My daughter, the geologist and science writer, points out the swells of the sloping cemetery and says the plots look intentionally mounded. Paths are worn down and lupines are beginning to grow among what look like flowering brambles. Such a wonder is this place of life and death.

It’s where stories are born in the imagination.

Well, that is, if you are the kind of historical writer who geeks out over graves. It takes me a good thirty minutes to calm my excitement, to let the stronger clues dominate all the whispering curiosities. I thought to do a cemetery challenge — give myself 24 hours to research a name, find a backstory and write a flash fiction. Alas, my daughter’s dog ate my research notes. Seriously. I left them on the table and my SIL pulled what was left of the intact cover and the devoured notes from Jasper’s dog bed. “This yours,” he asked. Uh, was…

Absalom. Its the only name that remained on a rip of notepaper. I’m up to the challenge, and Jasper can go bite a squirrel. On Sunday, we went adventuring. My daughter remembers how I used to take her and her siblings to look for cemeteries, or historical libraries of stories. We grabbed gas station caffeine, dropped the SIL off at work (he’s a Park Ranger in Calumet for Isle Royale) and began to head toward Copper Harbor on the Keweenaw Peninsula. Cornish miners were said to have been among the first here and I’m hoping to find evidence. Otherwise, I don’t know what to expect.

My daughter pulls over at a historical wooden sign for the Clif Mine, established in 1843. Every town and blip on the map on this thumb of land that pokes into Lake Superior was either a mining or ore processing community. Ruins of rock buildings and piles of tailings spread out across the hills and swells of this country. Clif Mine remains unseen except for the ridge of rock that miners blasted into. We try to go to where the original cemetery was set, but the spring melt has flooded the road. We turn toward Eagle River and find Evergreen Cemetery, which turns out to be full of Clif miners and their families.

That’s where I found the grave of Absalom, last name devoured by a dog. I go to an online source, Find A Grave and search by first name. It’s unusual enough to come up with a single match: Absolom Bennett. Now I recall it struck me as an unusual combination and he “died in Clif Mine.” In, is a chilling word. Absolom was born in 1833, died in 1859. I then go to to search records for this young miner, using his name, birth date and location. Nothing. I then enter his death date. Nothing. Then I find an article about the Clif Mine in the Mining Gazette:

“While legal documents and records, along with contemporary newspaper accounts, disclose the facts and statistics of the village’s history, the nearby Evergreen Cemetery also tells a sad story of the town and its people. It is a story of the harsh life in a pioneer town, in sharp contrast to the romantic histories portrayed in books.

An example of the hardships of pioneer life on the frontier is the grave of Willie B. Slawson. Willie was born on March 3, 1849. He died on July 26, just over four months old. Next to Willie lays his mother, who died in November of the same year, at the age of 24.

Mary E. Wright rests very near the Slawsons. Mary was the only child of William and Mary, who owned the Phoenix House. She died on March 18, 1862 at the age of three.

Absalom Bennett, an employee of the nearby Cliff Mine, whose parent company owned the land the cemetery occupies, was killed in a mining accident in 1859 at the age of 26.

Among the many babies, children, and young mothers who lay at the Evergreen Cemetery is Joseph Blight, Sr., who founded the fuse company. Blight is one of the older ones buried there; he died in 1884 at the age of 62.”

The article mentions a few other names I had noted, especially that of the Blight family. Joseph Blight was from Cornwall. Judging by the ornate iron fence, large family memorial and stately gravestones, it seemed Blight was successful. He evidently made his living by operating a fuse company. He also suffered from the loss of a child and so did many others. I always wonder what happens to the spouses or remaining children when a mother dies. If the husband or no other children are buried, I assume they moved on. Michigan Tech, where my daughter works, is a remnant of the hard-rock copper mining and is what remains of the technology developed by the mines on this peninsula. The college even has an archeology project with sketches and blog posts about the Clif Mine.

Sometimes, seeing a squirrel is grounding and can root me in reality. Sometimes, it’s a distraction. But for many pioneers, like those who came to the Keweenaw or passed through Rock Creek, squirrels were dinner. Right now I feel as if I have squirrels on the brain. My computer has been fussing and went blue-screen on me. I was able to open it in safe-mode and revive it. But my travel adventures and life hiccups have me off-schedule.

Bad news from Idaho today, too — I was formally notified to vacate my home. I have 30 days. I’m in touch with a lawyer, but it’s not promising. The most I can get is the full month of June. The reason? The letter stated that the owners want the property vacant while it is listed on the market for sale. So, it hasn’t even sold and we are being displaced because our presence is seen as a hindrance to their sale.

Honestly, I want to throw rabid squirrels at people.

Hang in there with me as I navigate waters as rocky as some of the Keweenaw shoreline. Tomorrow I have a long drive to Minneapolis. I meet up with friends and hopefully a client whose contract I desperately need to renew or else I’ll be homeless and penniless. Not a good combination, but perhaps reason to start looking up recipes for wild squirrel stew. The thing about being a writer is that they can take away my office, my desk, my pencils, but no one can stop me twirling beneath the broad canopy of my imagination. Stories will continue. Compilations might be out of order and I’ll be on and off as I travel. “Home” by Saturday though what to do about a home is yet to be resolved.

In the meantime, get squirrely and keep writing. I’m ever so grateful for this community! Your stories last week are all fabulous! I’ve been reading on my phone. I’ll spare you searching out cemetery stories, but expect you to go nuts over the prompt.

May 18, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features a squirrel. It can be about a squirrel, for a squirrel or by a squirrel. Think nutty, naturalistic, dinner or ironic. Go where the prompt leads and don’t forget to twirl with imagination.

Respond by May 24, 2016 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!


Without Squirrels by Charli Mills

“Remember when that squirrel nested in the walls?” Cobb blew smoke from his pipe.

Mary smiled, sitting on the bench next to him. “What a racket that fool critter made.”

“I’ll build you a bigger house than this dirt-floored cabin, I promise you, Mary.”

She nodded. “It’ll do for now. I just don’t want it near her.”

“It’s just business, Mary.”

Mary snorted. “Business? You think gossips spread tales of Sarah keeping your accounts?”

“Don’t give a damn what wagtails say, wife and neither should you.”

“Build me that house, Cobb and no squirrels of any kind near it.”


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  1. Annecdotist

    Well, I can have trouble knowing what day of the week it is at the best of times, but the flash fiction challenge on Wednesday? You certainly like to keep us on our toes ;-).
    My excitement at your delight in rummaging around cemeteries, as well as the provision of the requested squirrel prompt, is tempered by the sad news about your home. How dare they do that to you? And repeatedly amazed that you can write so well in these unsettling circumstances. I hope your writing continues to provide you that solid foundation.
    Love the flash, of course, and can totally identify with Sarah’s longing for a home without squirrels – of any kind – as neighbours. Will that be possible?
    I’ve got mine in quickly again with a review of a novel about another kind of archivist:
    The Sacred Combe by Thomas Maloney

    • Charli Mills

      With my spotty access I thought it best to do the next prompt and delay the compilation. Keeping you on your toes, but offered a squirrel! Writing keeps me sane in the present uncertainty. I’m angry that they are kicking us out before they even sell the place, as if we are hindering their sale. I dislike feeling like my existence is that of a commodity. Not sure what happens next, but writing is my anchor. Good to see you responded so quickly to squirrels, and with a review.

  2. Sherri

    I’ll be back! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      With a squirrel! ????

      • Sherri

        You bet! 😀

      • Pat Cummings

        Of any kind! I love that kind of nuance; that you achieved it in a flash format is stellar, Charli! You have the online community to ground you, and a talent to provide for the next physical home. And whatever else happens is all grist for the mill, right?

      • Charli Mills

        Thanks, Pat! Yes, this community is grounding and what happens in life is indeed grist for the mill. 🙂

  3. elliotttlyngreen

    Sweet! Charli, this one is for you. You will survive. But you know that. Thanks for reading, and everyone (if so:). I am glad I got to share some stories of my own that I have had on tap for years- I believe I have a better grasp and place of my voice. Now,,,, i gotta disappear; back to reality for me (and focusing on work!) yikes. It has been a pleasure….for now.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Elliott! It is refreshing to take a reality break and to have an outlet for stored stories. Thank you for sharing your voice here!

  4. Pete

    So sorry to hear this Charli, I hope you find a way to stay, at least until you can get something figured out. In the meantime, I’m with Anne, your spirit and will is amazing.

    • Charli Mills

      I’m on my way back to Idaho to face what we need to do, which seems uncertain. And while I’m sitting here in the Houston Airport (because the way home is to fly from Minneapolis to Spokane via Houston) and a television segment comes on. It’s about Montana. I’m listening lightly as I’m catching up here on the Ranch and then I hear a slow and strained voice speak from the screen — it’s Montana author, Jim Harrison, who passed away recently. He’s beloved by every Montana (and Idaho) writer. He was tenacious, and faced many challenges, including his health. Yet it never stopped him and definitely never dissuaded him from writing. So here I sit with uncertainty, listening to a ghost of a writer, who says, “The only advice I can give to aspiring writers is don’t do it unless you’re willing to give your whole life to it. Red wine and garlic also helps.” Okay. Going home to write, drink red wine, eat garlic and find something to astonish me tomorrow! Shelter will come along eventually.

      • Norah

        What’s garlic for? Doesn’t it keep the demons away? Beautiful words, Charli.

      • Charli Mills

        Ha! Perhaps, Norah. Sherri and I often talk about the Black Dog as the doubt that often plagues writers. Maybe garlic keeps them at bay. Maybe it’s simply a reminder to eat well.

  5. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    You take away the crustiness that historians have a reputation for. You make me want to go and dig around in graveyards. Well perhaps not literally. I enjoyed the journey you took us on in your quest for more information re the only name you were left with after the dog ate your “homework”. I’m sorry to hear about your order to vacate and hope you can find a new home quickly and somewhere where you want to live. Looking on the bright side if you do have to camp out for awhile – at least it’s summer. I do think you have been treated poorly. You have shown Mary as very human in this flash. I wouldn’t be wanting Sarah close either.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! Digging could cause misunderstandings. 😀 I did lay in the grass to get that photo of the purple flowers and momentarily wondered who I might be resting upon. I get too giddy to be crusty. And yes– it’s summer and a fine time to camp. I’m going to look for a camp trailer when I get back among my shelter searches. Or a wall tent, raised platform floor big enough for my bed and a small desk — I’ll go “glamping”! I did write a plea for an extension, asking for reasonable time given we’ve been good tenants and that the house hasn’t actually sold. No response so far. As for Mary, she had tough circumstances that were unfair, too. She was stoic, but sometimes her vulnerability came through.

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        Glamping sounds like fun but I do hope they give you an extension. I liked seeing Mary’s vulnerability. It somehow makes her more human.

      • Norah

        Glamping sounds like holiday fun. It usually means having a home to return to. I hope the search is fruitful.

      • Charli Mills

        There’s a glamping place north of Missoula, Montana that comes with champagne and a butler! Somehow, I don’t think that’s in my future. Well, if I’m homeless with my bed alongside a river in the mountains, I’ll order Todd to go to town and get me a cheap bottle of bubbly and I’ll call that glamping!

    • Sherri

      Loved your flash Irene 🙂

  6. denmaniacs4

    Thanks for this weeks challenge, Charli. All the best.


    Dobbs hunkered down into a snug corner of the stable.

    The hay was thick, clean and dry.

    He let himself sink down deep.

    The Banker’s bitter whiskey rumbled in his empty gut.

    Sharp images of the hunger and hardscrabble days
    of his Virginia boyhood drifted back,
    sweet summer memories, the rich smell of his mother’s critter stew,
    Brunswick stew she’d called it,
    crammed full of tomatoes, potatoes, scrawny squirrels and old chicken meat.
    bubbling away on the fire.

    It had been a harsh, dirt-poor farm life,
    broken up too few times when his belly was full.

    Then, he slept.

    • explorereikiworld

      Such a cute narration…loved it!

    • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

      I think if I was as hungry as he spent most of his childhood Brunswick stew would taste pretty good to me. Good portrayl of what I imagine many a boy’s life was back in those days.

    • Charli Mills

      This flash deepens the character development of Dobbs, rooting his boyhood experiences to his sense of justice as a man. Ah, even the squirrels were half starved and this was true of many poor communities. When I was researching antebellum food in the American south, critters featured regularly in meals.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Ruchira! I’m hoping to get something resolved once I’m back in Idaho. Traveling today.

  7. Pat Cummings

    Another two-fer (but I’ve had weeks to get ready for a squirrel prompt!) Here is Thorn and Rose,

    • Charli Mills

      Another two-fer! You did go nuts with the prompt! 😛

  8. Norah

    Hi Charli, I think I am just as fascinated by your fascination with cemeteries as you are in them! I love the twirling and swirling of your opening paragraphs. What excitement! I’m yet to be bitten by the bug. I dare say I’ll be spending some time among the gravestones in the future! I love the way you take a name and a few dates, add a little inspired research and create a fascinating story.
    I’m so sorry to hear you are being mercilessly kicked out of home prematurely. Am I allowed to be disgruntled for you and say that I hope it doesn’t sell for years and years and that they are without income from it. (Ooh! She’s nasty!) I know your next home will not be ready for you until September. I hope you find something suitable in the meantime. One month doesn’t give much time to get into the mindset or the action that is required to make the move. I hope something turns up to ease the transition.
    We don’t have squirrels in Australia but some of their behaviour seems similar to that of our possums – hiding in walls, jumping on roofs, being noisy at night.
    Your flash is excellent as usual, and I love the way that Mary confronts Cobb over his relationship with Sarah. How arrogant is he in his response, showing no consideration for Mary’s feelings. As long as he gets what he wants, it’s okay. That the real squirrel provided Mary the opportunity to raise the topic was well done, and true to nature.
    Wishing you all the best. Hang in there.

    • Charli Mills

      Ah, thank you for saying what I hadn’t yet allowed myself to say! I’m trying a diplomatic approach, after contacting a lawyer. There’s not much hope for an extension beyond a appeal to treat us with dignity and give us reasonable time to vacate. I so sorely want to lash out with angry words. The only satisfaction, and it’s not much, but we can halt the showings during that 30 days. If they don’t give us an extension, we won’t allow showings, as our lawyer said, we’ve kept it show-ready and can’t be expected to do so while packing. Yes, not everyone wants to twirl and swirl in the cemeteries! Ah, just so many forgotten stories! I’ve heard that possum pie was popular in Cobb’s day. He’s a mix of good and not-so-much. But I’m glad Mary spoke up, too.

      • Norah

        Refusing the showings while you are packing seems like a small contribution to maintenance of sanity! It sounds very reasonable on your part.
        I’m not sure I’d enjoy possum pie. Our Australian possums were “imported” into New Zealand where they are a big pest but I’m not sure if they’ve taken to eating them as a way of controlling the unwelcome population.
        When I was a child I was given the nickname possum because I climbed everywhere. How things change! 🙂

  9. susanzutautas

    When I was a little girl my grandparents and I would go and visit my relatives graves. I loved to go there because there was a lake there and we’d always take a picnic lunch with us.
    Loved your story and I’ll be back shortly with mine.
    Like Norah says: Hang in there.

    • Charli Mills

      Some cemeteries are beautiful as if to invite visits. Sounds like your relatives have such a resting place. Thanks! Hanging in there by the tips of my nails!

    • A. E. Robson

      Oh how I can see this happening!

    • Charli Mills

      Norm’s going to have an indoor circus soon! 🙂

  10. A. E. Robson

    If you live where there are squirrels, you have heard their chatter.

    Ann Edall-Robson

    Oh man, here comes more of them. Take your noisy kids and ugly dog and get lost! They just won’t leave us alone. 

    Don’t they know it’s that time of year when we need to be on the ground doing our thing for the coming winter? We need to stockpile food in that old tree trunk and under that log.

    Hey, those pine cones are mine! I didn’t pile them up for you to spread them out and take the best ones. 

    Quit pointing at me. I am not cutesy wootsy. Scolding you? You bet I am.  GO AWAY!

    • susanzutautas

      That was a fun read Ann 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! That’s a squirrel, all right! Their chatter can sound scolding at times, although I’m notorious for asking, “What bird is that?” Last year, I kept hearing a squirrel chatter and finally discovered it was the Belted Kingfisher. Ah, one day I’ll connect the right sound!

  11. Pete

    I was six beers deep, the seventh between my legs when that squirrel came along. I jerked the wheel left, but my nutty little friend went left too, so I corrected and went right. Right into the creek.

    Cut my head good, but found the beer on the floorboard–foamy–I drank what I could ’til the cops came. Still went to jail.

    DUI’s are expensive. I should have hit the sucker if I wasn’t such an animal lover. The judge gave me weekends in county. Fines. Recommended I get sober. I still maintain that the squirrel was drunk.

    • Norah

      The way you were both swerving around, who knows?
      It’s a good thing no one was hurt, including animals, in the writing of this story. DUI is not socially responsible. I’m glad “you” got time! 🙂

      • Pete

        Good thing indeed, Norah, my writing can be about socially irresponsible as it gets!

      • Norah

        But an enjoyable read, and that’s what counts!

    • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

      Great story Pete. He’s got the right priorities??? avoiding the squirrel and getting his beer drunk. Glad you don’t take after your flash character.

    • Charli Mills

      A humorous take on the prompt and also a great observation on human behavior — if in denial of what needs changing, blame the squirrel. 😉

    • Charli Mills

      Uh-oh, I can imagine the trouble a squirrel might be over at Ed and Edna’s place!

  12. rogershipp

    Mischievous Counter-Measures

    “Ha…chitter…chitter…ah.” A rhythmic, guttural chuckle arose from his innards. “You won’t stop me that easily.”

    The robust squirrel flicked his tail and gazed at the new structure. “Upping his game once more.”

    At first, seeds were fair game. “Dinner was served” in a beautifully-embossed emerald bowl.

    Then, the swinging S-hook which lowered the mouthwatering delectables into a floating globe.

    Ineffective. All one had to do was gently align and spring-down to the seed-filled sphere.

    Today, a double-hooded monstrosity had arisen from the ground. Lunch was centered in the luscious tulip gardens.

    He smirked. “Maybe it’s time for a change?”

    • Charli Mills

      I can see the battle of the bulbs unfold in your flash, Roger!

  13. Sherri

    ‘The thing about being a writer is that they can take away my office, my desk, my pencils, but no one can stop me twirling beneath the broad canopy of my imagination…’ Charli, my hope and prayer is that none of these things will be taken away from you, that you’ll find a new, lovely home and soon, but that sentence tells us so much about your true heart, the beauty that shines through even on the darkest of days <3 Very sad about so many losing their lives so young. I love how you dig out these stories about people otherwise forgotten, sharing them with us here at the Ranch. And each time I read your flashes, I want to know more! Finally, just to say, I'm not so far from Cornwall here in the West Country of England…you know where to come if you want a homegrown pastie 🙂 <3

    My flash is really a BOTS…!

    Red Squirrel Missing

    ‘Home of the Red Squirrel’ the sign read.

    A short boat ride to the little island and at last, Mum could show her children what a red squirrel, not grey, looked like.

    Signs with photographs of red squirrels pointed the way to the entrance as the children ran on ahead.

    “Keep your eyes peeled,” called Mum, her eyes darting expectantly from tree to tree.

    “Look, peacocks!” The children laughed as they spent the next hour chasing them.

    “How was it?” asked Dad later.

    “Should have called it ‘Home of the Peacock,” Mum sniffed. “Not a red squirrel in sight…”

    • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

      I feel for your Mum and the disappointment she would have felt not having been able to produce a red squirrel. I don’t think that you or your brother would have cared less. You had the peacocks.

      • Sherri

        Haha…yes, the peacocks became the main attraction! But I have to confess Irene, the Mum is me! Brownsea Island is a short boat ride across from Poole harbour in Dorset. ‘Home of the Red Squirrel’ it proudly boasts! Ha! Well, on one of my visits back home from the States, I so much wanted to show the kids the red squirrels of my childhood – as in Squirrel Nutkin 😉 But alas, it was not to be; they spied a family of wouldn’t you know it, baby peacocks – peachicks??? – and that was that. Oh what fun! But it’s true, although I kept my eyes firmly fixed on the trees as we wondered through that little island for a good couple of hours, not one single squirrel appeared- red, grey or otherwise 😉

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        In that case I feel for you Sherri. I’m sure the kids have now seen plenty of red squirrels and not so many peacocks so perhaps a good thing they concentrated on them. 🙂

      • Sherri

        Haha…yes, true, although those red squirrels are still rather elusive… 😉

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Sherri, I’m hoping my pencils and imagination get settled somewhere. And one day, you will have to introduce me to the motherland of pasties! My daughter says the origins of pasties in the Keweenaw are a touchy subject — supposedly the Finns claim pasties. I’m doubtful. Saunas, yes, pasties, no. Your flash is hoot! So typical when you try to show your children something special and they discover something else. Good use of a BOT in a flash!

      • Sherri

        Yes…you will get settled and yes, you will love Cornwall! That’s funny about the pasty dispute and the Finns. Glad you enjoyed the flash…and yes, so typical! Thanks Charli!

  14. Kerry E.B. Black

    I also find old cemeteries fascinating. I do hope things get easier for you soon, Charli.

    Here is my 99 squirrely words.

    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    The squirrel took a peanut from Melinda’s hand and scurried to hide it. Its gray tail twitched like a tic, all uncontrollable jerking and nervous energy.
    Melinda waited its return, sack of peanuts in her lap. Mud had caught her chair’s wheels, so observing passed time.
    The squirrel returned for another snack, stretching it miniscule paw to touch the worn padding on the chair’s arm. As it claimed its prize, its claw caught on the stuffing which trailed behind like engine smoke.
    “If only I could harness your energy!” she thought as she pushed on the mired wheels without moving.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Kerry. Perhaps one day you might find a story in an old cemetery that you can flash. What a great way to describe the flicking of a squirrel tail and also the chair stuffing. So true — I could use some squirrel energy!

  15. Norah

    Hi Charli,
    I enjoyed writing my flash response to this one – back to my early childhood roots – but struggled to find the theme. I think I’ve done it, though I may have tap-danced around it a bit. Thanks for the opportunity to have fun with a story.

    • Charli Mills

      I suppose squirrels don’t lend themselves too well to a theme. But I’m glad it took you back to childhood roots! Thanks for having fun with it!

      • Norah

        It was my pleasure! 🙂

  16. paulamoyer

    So good to see you in the flesh, Charli — glad you got to see where Radio Geek and Solar Man live, too! Hoping that things will work out soon for you.

    Here’s my flash:

    Like Clockwork

    By Paula Moyer

    “I’m getting the hang of it,” Jean thought. The new puppy, Stella, was now 10 weeks old. Stella took to the leash easily enough – some pulling, but Labs were known to pull, right?

    The week before, it was hot on their walks. Jean noticed the squirrels that Stella didn’t, and the yellow pup came home thirsty and sleepy. It was working out well.

    Today, though – chill in the air, turning leaves. Stella’s nose twitched.

    Back home. Squirrel in the driveway. Stella’s DNA called “Charge!”

    Jean landed face forward.

    Ripped pants, scraped knee – Jean could now testify to Stella’s instincts.

    • Charli Mills

      What a lovely house our children have together! Solar Man has a knack for projects and I love their eclectic decor. It was good to see your beautiful tapestry hanging in their office among the collection of family diplomas. Better yet, it was so good to see you! Great flash, though not a graceful way to testify to a lab’s squirrely instincts.

      • paulamoyer

        Don’t they? I love their house; I got to see it from the outside before they bought it and then last fall after they had moved in. Yes, I love seeing the needlepoint hanging in such a nice location. Good topic, squirrels — who knew!

    • Charli Mills

      When looking for a rental, do you ever feel as if you understand why people like Jane Doe are homeless? We had a lawyer review our lease and she said we were in “an unpleasant place.” The lease is stacked to favor the landlord and yes, they can give us 30 days without cause. Her recommendation was to never lease from them again. Great. What about every other property manager or landlord out there with leases stacked in their favor? I can understand someone giving up hope and living under a bridge. The process is dehumanizing, shaming and frustrating. I feel like I’ve done something wrong. Sigh…yes, you hang in there, too and fight the good fight and keep crafting Jane’s story. Her voice is needed for those who’ve given up.

    • Charli Mills

      The writing often takes a turn away from our intentions. We once had a prompt about unicorns and I think that generated the darkest of stories!

  17. julespaige

    I completely just missed this one… It happens.
    Hope to come back and read some squirrel stories.
    I’m a week off… Oh, well.

    I finally have a bird feeder that is sort of squirrel proof…

    Charli, hoping things go well with your contract and finding a place.

  18. Charli Mills

    As Norah educated me, it seems your London squirrels were a gift from the US. May we send you Trump to skitter among the rodents? He’s not cute. He might get taken down by benevolent dogs wishing to save the world.

  19. Charli Mills

    How fun to experience the close companionship of a squirrel!


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  4. Don’t Feed the Squirrels (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) – 99 Monkeys - […] Carrot Ranch May 18 Flash Fiction Prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features a…
  5. Blackie | Eloquently Kate - […] Carrot Ranch May 18th Flash Fiction Challenge was to write a story in 99 words (no more, no less)…

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